The Real Deal Miami

Gulf Coast city considers ban on fertilizer to minimize red tide toll

The vice mayor of Venice wants a year-round ban on fertilizer use within city limits until the municipal government can ensure that its stormwater is fertilizer-free
September 09, 2018 02:15PM

Red tide left piles of dead mullet Sept. 6 at Manasota Key in Sarasota County. (Credit: Mike Lang | Sarasota Herald-Tribune)

The vice mayor of Venice has proposed a municipal ban on the use of fertilizer to combat recurring blooms of harmful red tide algae on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

The current red tide bloom along about 120 miles of the state’s Gulf coast from Pinellas County to northern Collier County has produced mass fish kills.

Sarasota County already limits fertilizer use during the rainy season. But Bob Daniels, the vice mayor of Venice, wants to apply a tougher rule within city limits: a year-round ban on the use of fertilizers as well as certain herbicides

Daniels contends that a year-round ban should remain in effect until the city is capable of monitoring its stormwater discharges into the Gulf of Mexico and ensure the elimination of their fertilizer content.

The vice mayor believes that fertilizer flushed into the sea serves as a nutrient for the organism that creates red tide, called karenia brevis.

Karenia brevis grows naturally offshore. Scientific research is under way to determine how the organism interacts with phosphorous, nitrogen and other nutrients used in the production of fertilizer, and how they affect the intensity and duration of red tide blooms close to shore.

The city of Venice has been trying to upgrade its filtration of stormwater discharges. The city is seeking a consultant to regularly monitor 10 stormwater outfalls for their levels of nitrogen, phosphorous, bacteria and dissolved oxygen. [Sarasota Herald-Tribune] – Mike Seemuth